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King Charles' ex-gardener blasts Isle of Wight Ventnor Botanic Garden as 'monoculture of weeds'


King Charles’s former gardener has launched a stinging assault on a celebrated botanic backyard whose ‘rewilding’ mission he says has turned it right into a ‘monoculture of weeds’.

For 50 years, Ventnor Botanic Backyard on the Isle of Wight has been a famend vacation spot for plant lovers due to its distinctive heat micro-climate.

However in current months it has confronted heavy criticism after its proprietor was accused of letting it fall into disrepair whereas pioneering a brand new method he stated was supposed to take care of local weather change.

American businessman John Curtis has defended his so referred to as ‘Ventnor technique’ below which he says the backyard is ‘transitioning’ from the strategies of conventional horticulturists and creating ‘artificial ecosystems’ as a substitute.

David Pearce, the previous kitchen gardener on the King’s non-public residence of Highgrove in Gloucestershire, has dismissed the hands-off method to upkeep as being nothing greater than a ‘greenwashing smokescreen’.

David Pearce, 25, the previous kitchen gardener on the King’s non-public residence of Highgrove in Gloucestershire stated the ‘rewilding’ mission on the botanic backyard on the Isle of Wight turned it right into a ‘monoculture of weeds’

Then-Prince Charles with Camilla and TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh visiting the Botanic Garden in 2009

Then-Prince Charles with Camilla and TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh visiting the Botanic Backyard in 2009

'Through my recent visits, it is clear that Ventnor Botanic Garden is becoming a monoculture of weeds,' said Mr Pearce. Pictured: Dying plants at the garden

‘By my current visits, it’s clear that Ventnor Botanic Backyard is turning into a monoculture of weeds,’ stated Mr Pearce. Pictured: Dying crops on the backyard 

Before: Subtropical palms and aloes growing in terraced scree garden, in botanic gardens with sheltered microclimate at Ventnor Botanic Garden

Earlier than: Subtropical palms and aloes rising in terraced scree backyard, in botanic gardens with sheltered microclimate at Ventnor Botanic Backyard

After: Recent pictures of the gardens show trees with brown and dead leaves and the paths strewn with overgrown vegetation

After: Latest photos of the gardens present timber with brown and lifeless leaves and the paths strewn with overgrown vegetation

In a letter to the Island’s native newspaper, the 25 yr previous – who educated on the botanic backyard between 2016 and 2018 – stated: ‘This “experimental trial” practiced at Ventnor Botanic Backyard is being hailed as the way forward for gardening, and an answer to local weather change.

‘Nonetheless, I imagine it lacks any of the scientific backing to make it a viable and supportable scheme. Even when it was, nobody must be experimenting to the detriment of a scientifically necessary assortment of crops.

‘The world-renowned botanic backyard and its in depth assortment of crops, invaluable to science, was merely handed over to somebody who had zero expertise working in gardens.

‘By my current visits, it’s clear that Ventnor Botanic Backyard is turning into a monoculture of weeds.’

Mr Pearce educated with Royal Horticultural Society and now runs the historic backyard of Whatley Manor, a 12-acre arts and crafts backyard and 5-star nation home lodge.

He added: ‘I imagine the Ventnor Methodology is a greenwashing smokescreen used to cover the shortage of monetary enter made.

‘It’s clear this experiment has begun to be on the expense of a well-loved customer attraction, instructional centre and internationally acclaimed plant assortment.’

Criticism of the backyard started earlier this summer time when former curator Simon Goodenough returned to the positioning he sorted for 25 years to search out it ‘overrun with weeds’ and ‘fully run down’.

Mr Pearce criticised the experimental 'Ventor method' which has been hailed as the future of gardening and a solution to climate change

Mr Pearce criticised the experimental ‘Ventor technique’ which has been hailed as the way forward for gardening and an answer to local weather change

Mr Pearce said the trial 'lacks any of the scientific backing' and in any case, they should not be experimenting on a 'scientifically important collection of plants'

Mr Pearce stated the trial ‘lacks any of the scientific backing’ and in any case, they shouldn’t be experimenting on a ‘scientifically necessary assortment of crops’

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales tours the Ventnor Botanic Garden during a day of engagements on The Isle of Wight on July 17, 2009

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales excursions the Ventnor Botanic Backyard throughout a day of engagements on The Isle of Wight on July 17, 2009

Mr Goodenough – who left his submit in 2011 – felt compelled to make his considerations public, writing a prolonged critique to the Island’s native newspaper.

‘I’ve sat expecting 11 years as issues worsen and worse however really feel that I can no-longer stay silent on the path of journey of the backyard,’ he wrote.

Mr Goodenough, who began engaged on the backyard in 1985 stated it’s ‘very upsetting’ to look at his onerous work ‘go to hell’.

Mr Pearce continued in his letter which was printed yesterday: ‘Behind the origin of the Ventnor Methodology are the naturalistically planted geographical landscapes created by Simon Goodenough within the Nineteen Eighties.

‘These, on the time, showcased an enormous number of uncommon and strange crops (a few of which had been distinctive to horticulture) organized how they might be discovered of their pure setting.

‘Simon realised that given the actual fact Ventnor was positioned with a beneficial microclimate for rising Mediterranean-zone species, it nonetheless differed in lots of extremely advanced abiotic and biotic elements that enable the institution of intact ecosystems.

‘Therefore, it was gardened; fastidiously and elegantly cultivated to showcase an idealised depiction of these wild landscapes. For years this offered the horticultural and Isle of Wight communities with a instrument for training, conservation and inspiration.’

Mr Pearce stated the turning level got here when the Isle of Wight council offered the backyard in 2012.

‘Skip to the fashionable day and the Ventnor Methodology is a time period presently getting used below the pretext of rewilding and sustainability.

‘Rewilding is an extremely thrilling motion that may hopefully form the best way we proceed to handle giant areas of land. Nonetheless, “rewilding” could be very inclined to greenwashing, and VBG is, in my view, a major instance of this.

‘The largest false impression of rewilding is that it’s merely leaving an area to take care of itself. If that area occurs to be Yellowstone Park, then sure it may be rewilded by neglect, as a result of it has a self-sustaining ecosystem.

‘By my current visits, it’s clear that VBG is turning into a monoculture of weeds. VBG’s try at rewilding has solely lessened biodiversity.’

Mr Pearce said the Ventnor Method being used under a pretext of rewilding and sustainability

Mr Pearce stated the Ventnor Methodology getting used below a pretext of rewilding and sustainability

'However, "rewilding" is very susceptible to greenwashing, and VBG is, in my opinion, a prime example of this,' he added

‘Nonetheless, “rewilding” could be very inclined to greenwashing, and VBG is, in my view, a major instance of this,’ he added

He added: ‘With no administration, the dominant, pioneering species, do, and can proceed to, out-compete much less vigorous species of flora that ought to, below right custodianship, be serving to us advance our understanding of crops, medicines and ecosystems.

‘It’s clear this experiment has begun to be on the expense of a well-loved customer attraction, instructional centre and internationally acclaimed plant assortment.

‘Briefly, I imagine the Ventnor Methodology is a greenwashing smokescreen used to cover the shortage of monetary enter.’

The favored attraction – touted to be ‘Britain’s hottest backyard’ due to its ‘outstanding’ microclimate – was based in 1970.

Till 2012 it was owned by the Isle of Wight Council earlier than being offered to Mr Curtis.

In an try and rebut Mr Goodenough’s unique criticisms, Mr Curtis, defended his progress.

He stated: ‘We imagine the way forward for gardening within the face of local weather change and accelerating plant extinction charges will have fun this method. It isn’t a flower-filled quaint English border with graduated heights of planting in threes and fives.’

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